What could have been and can still be

Nabil Nakkash, transport systems engineer at TEAM International, recently posted two interesting articles concerning the possibility of public transportation in Greater Beirut.

The first was about a soviet study conducted in 1968 for the implementation of a metro network in Beirut. It was more a prefiguration of what an underground tranport system in Beirut could look like. Indeed, it did lack a number of scientific data and a strategy for implementation, but it has the merit of having raised very early on the idea of a Beirut Metro.

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To have a look at the study, click here


The second study Nabil Nabil Nakkash posted is the 1995 Greater Beirut Area Transporation Plan (GBATP). Much more serious than the soviet study of 1968, it studied the feasibility of a very complete plan for traffic management and for the implementation of a public transporation network. It proposed a diverse set of actions such as: completing and reorganizing the road network, creating underground metro lines,  site-dedicated bus lines, relaunching a regional/suburban train line, organizing taxi/service networks, building public silo parkings, etc.

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To have a look at the study, click here


 

” Computer simulations demonstrate that, in the absence of a modern mass transit system, meeting future needs will remain an illusion.”
– Executive Summary of the GBATP 

As said by Nabil Nakkash, “Unfortunately, we have reached a point where any future investment in road infrastructure will make little difference on the overall network. Without a paradigm shift in the way we view the issue of mobility in our city, no real improvement will be possible.”

The Municipality of Beirut and CDR have been warned for more than 20 years that not working on the implementation of a mass transit system will bring traffic in Beirut and its suburbs to a catastrophic deadlock. 20 years later, in the middle of that predictable deadlock, the Municipality wishes to invest around 100 million dollars into the Fouad Boutros highway, a short stretch of road planned more than 50 years ago. If the Municipality of Beirut is so keen to fish out some old projects from its drawers, it could at least have chosen the right ones.

Rather than spending them on a defunct highway doomed to fail, a 100 million dollars would be much better spent on this first implementation of the GBATP. Indeed, the GBATP estimates that 100 million dollars would be sufficient (inflation put aside) to buy 400 buses catering 80 million passengers per year…

Something the decision makers of the Municipality of Beirut and the CDR should ponder upon…

 

 

 

How should we honor Fouad Boutros?

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Fouad Boutros passed away. He was one of Lebanon’s most irreproachable and prominent politicians. He was known for his high integrity and for his constant search of public good in whatever position he held, in the several ministries he headed, including the “Ministère du Plan”, the pre-war equivalent of a Ministry of Urbanism.

This great man’s name should not be given to an urban aberration, to a failed highway project, disqualified by every single urban professional in the country. Fouad Boutros should be honored with a project that truly serves public good, which will change city life for the better and offer its citizens something that they truly need.

The Civil Coalition advocates the creation of the Fouad Boutros Park, along the trail the highway was supposed to follow. The municipality of Beirut owns around 20 historic buildings and thousands of square meters of gardens, that have been expropriated before 1975. It is a unique, golden opportunity to do something undoubtedly good for the city, to offer citizens a new green, natural public space, and a cultural hub.

Fouad Boutros was minister of urbanism: let’s create a positive urban gesture that makes sense for the city! He was minister of education: let’s honor him with a place where culture is held high! He was minister of tourism: let’s turn the Hekmeh neighborhood into a heritage quarter attractive for visitors! He was a celebrated diplomat, let’s build a participative project, shared by the Municipality, Beirut’s citizens, the local inhabitants and civil society. Let’s imagine a project which would be a true legacy to Fouad Boutros’s career and achievements!

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CLICK HERE for more information about the Fouad Boutros Park proposal